Brief History of the Law School

Brief History of the Law School


The teaching of both canon and civil law began in 1451 at the founding of the University, although law ceased to be amongst the subjects taught at Glasgow in the sixteenth century and was not effectively revived until the creation of the Regius Chair of Law in 1713. However, it was during that period that James Dalrymple of Stair, one of the most distinguished figures in Scottish legal history came to Glasgow. He studied for the Master of Arts degree from 1633 to 1637 and from 1641 to 1647 held the post of regent probably teaching philosophy. Subsequently, he became a Court of Session judge and published The Institutions of the Law of Scotland (1681) the first systematic exposition of Scots law.

The first holder of the Regius Chair was William Forbes who held it from 1713-1745. Subsequent distinguished holders of the Chair have also included John Millar (1761- 1801), William Gloag (1905-1934) and David Walker (1958-1990).

Provision for law teaching was extended by the establishment of a Chair of Conveyancing in 1861 under the patronage of the Faculty of Procurators, and in the twentieth century by the establishment of the Douglas Chair of Civil Law (1948) and Chairs in Jurisprudence (1952) and Public Law (1965).

Teaching and Research in Law began to assume its modern form in the 1960s. The establishment of a full-time LL.B. degree led to a dramatic increase in student numbers. In the 1960s the numbers taking Ph.D.s in Law increased and taught Masters degrees in law (M.Phil. and LL.M.) were established. For many years different specialisms in law had been the responsibility of separate departments but these were merged to create a single School of Law in 1992. In 2010 the School of Law joined a number of other schools in a new College of Social Science.

See further: David M Walker, A History of the School of Law, the University of Glasgow (University of Glasgow, 1990).